Meridian Star

October 28, 2012

You wanna hear something REALLY scary?

By Barbara Wells
Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Okay, this Wednesday is the day we celebrate as Halloween – when the ghost and goblins’ll get ya if you don’t watch out!

    However Meridian Activity Center needs no such apparitions when we have Pat Wilson, our intrepid yoga instructor who lectures us about our health.

    Reading in The New York Times an article by a Gretchen Reynolds, Pat told us of a survey done in Australia of about 12,000 adults. Questions included: How many hours a day do you spend sitting? Depending on the type of work we do most of us can estimate an amount, but it is generally easier to fix a number to the number of hours in front of a television set. (Three hourlong shows = 3 hours.)

    The Australian researchers found that adults there spent a collective 9.8 billion hours of television. Then using other variables, smoking, waistline size, dietary and exercise habits – these researchers came up with a sobering, no, downright scary, conclusion: Every single hour of televison watched after the age of 25 reduces life expectancy by 21.8 minutes!

    My three hours of television are erasing one hour of my lifetime! (Can you imagine what Charlie Brown would say to that?! AGH!)

    Then, in another study in the journal Diabetologia, reviewing sitting time (in front of TV and at work) found that those who sat the most had a higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Why should something as innocuous as sitting be detrimental to our health? Says David W. Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, “When we are sitting for prolonged amounts of time, there is the absence of skeletal muscle contractions in the large muscles of the lower limbs.”

    When muscles don’t contract, they require less fuel and the surplus — in the form of blood sugar — accumulates in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes risk and other health concerns.

    Fortunately, there was another article Pat read with fewer grim outcomes. We all know that prehypertension is known to respond well to exercise. It’s why we are told to walk and do aerobic exercise. High blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease and stroke. However, rather than a full 30-minute brisk walk— which many people find difficult to do – it has been found that breaking it up into three 10-minute walks over the day is actually more effective. Now That I can handle.

    All this information is as useful as you want it to be. Studies change from week to week. It is your body. We’ve always had our suspicions about television, though, right?

    However, we do know that walking is good for us and our new walking track behind Meridian Activity Center is an excellent way to get in a little cardiovascular exercise and take time to come inside for a look-see at what people are doing in Meridian’s community center. If you come early enough on Monday, Wednesday and Friday you may be surprised to find an exercise class you would fit into perfectly. Try any one for free before deciding.

    Fridays are becoming the day for card games, if that is what you are interested in. Just be sure to stand up and take a little walk every hour or so.

    Our classes began again last week: eight weeks of painting, sewing, whatever you want to do. There is still room in the Cake Decorating, Pine Needle Basket Weaving and Decorative Painting classes. Call me at (601) 485-1812 to find out what else you might take. Computer classes are ongoing; every five weeks a new one begins.

    Meridian Activity Center is located at 3300 32nd Ave., in the middle of a residential area between Meridian High School and Northwest Middle School. The best cross street is 36th Street off 29th Avenue or Poplar Springs Drive.

     Call (601) 485-1812 for information about any of our classes, or check out our Facebook website or listing of classes.

    • Barbara Wells is director of Meridian Activity Center. You may e-mail her at